As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'" He said to him, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were greatly astounded and said to one another, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible."
Peter began to say to him, "Look, we have left everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age--houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions--and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first." Mark 10:17-31
We moved to Sitka just over two weeks ago and this place has captured my heart. It's beauty and the warmth of the people has really touched me. And yet, I am also tugged back home to the other coast. My internal clock is still eastern and my orientation is still to look out to the ocean to the east. The ocean here is west, due west, and it requires me turning around and reforming my perspective - a letting go of the familiar and familial and an embracing of the new and very different.
Jesus encounters a faithful young man who yearns to follow Jesus and to be considered among the disciples and the other followers. Jesus tells him the simple things of faith and then challenges him to let go of his substantial wealth and his place in the community. His possessions and his class kept him from embracing the true love of God in his life. In his cossetted comfort, he was unable to see his own need. God invites us all to turn around, letting go of those things which bind us and hold us back from the love of God. We are encouraged to set down our burdens and turn, facing a whole new direction, a whole new way of life. How scary is that?
Today, I ask God for the strength to let go of all those things that keep me from the love of God. May we be willing to turn around, setting down the burdens that keep us from following God, and tearing down the barriers that keep us from loving others. May we forgo comfort for compassion, goods for godliness, and embrace the true freedom we have in God's abiding love.
Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.